On Monday, the Canadian women’s soccer team lashed out at the officiating after their 4-3 loss to the U.S. in extra time of their match at the Olympics. They can now find common cause with the boxers in the long lineup at the complaints department.
Custio Clayton of North Preston, Nova Scotia, is the latest pugilist to get the short end of the scorecard at the international level. He lost a decision to Great Britain’s Freddie Evans after the two boxers ended up even on the judges’ point counts.
When that happens, a “countback” procedure is initiated whereby the tallies of the landed punches are added up. Three of the five judges at ringside must press buttons simultaneously for punches to count. Based on that, it was determined that Evans landed more counting blows that Clayton.
There’s another, more obvious problem here: the referee appeared to issue three cautions to Evans for holding onto Clayton during the match. According to the rules, a one-point deduction should have resulted from that, but none was awarded. Canada appealed the decision to the International Amateur Boxing Association, but the organization rejected the appeal.
It’s not just Clayton who was apparently screwed by the judges: the exact same thing happened in the match immediately before the Clayton-Evans bout. French boxer Alexis Vastine sat down on the mat and refused to leave the ring for a brief period after a countback in his welterweight fight gave the decision to top-seeded Taras Shelestyuk of Ukraine, even though Shelestyuk landed no shots during the final round and spent much of that round holding and clinching Vastine. Shelestyuk is now scheduled to face Evans in the semi-finals.
Other incidents have cropped up: an Indian fighter openly complained about cheating in the scoring after his defeat to a Brit, and a Filipino boxer also had a complaint dismissed by the AIBA after he lost his match in suspicious circumstances to a fighter from Kazakhstan.
It doesn’t stop there: a referee was sent home from these Games. The AIBA expelled Ishanguly Meretnyyazov of Turkmenistan after he failed to stop a fight in which Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu knocked down his opponent, Magomed Abdulhamidov of Azerbaijan, six times in the final round. At no time did referee Meretnyyazov start a count during any of the knockdowns.
The judges scored the match 10-10 — incredibly, the original score was 10-8 for Abdulhamidov but then the judges penalized him two points because he leaned against the top rope as the referee was raising his hand to signal victory.
Canadian boxers have been jobbed at the Olympics before. Shawn O’Sullivan and Willie de Wit both were both awarded silver medals in their weight categories at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles in dubiously officiated bouts which were decided in favour of Americans. However, at least they got medals, tarnished as those laurels might be.
Clayton will get nothing. He gave an admirable response when asked to reaction to the situation. “I thought I pulled it off. I’m not going to complain too much. I’m just going to sit back and chill.”
Good thing he can remain stoic in the face of such injustice. Then again, given boxing’s long-standing horrible reputation both at the amateur and professional levels, none of this should be a surprise to anyone.
Unfortunately, the fallout from these incidents will likely be little more than the occasional slap on the wrist as with the referee from Turkmenistan. As long as nothing changes, the sport labelled the “sweet science” will continue to deliver little but sour results and Pyrrhic victories.